Rachel Herrmann

Academia, food, and history

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In Which I am IN IT
Well, I've made it to Southampton! I've found a flat that I'm probably paying too much for, but I've got a view of the River Itchen and before and after work I go out onto my balcony and breathe deep soothing breaths of waterside. This fresh air is especially welcome given that during my first week in my flat my apartment was filled with the less pleasant smells of a wet mattress, which arrived soaked from the shipping company after I'd already spent two days sleeping on the floor. It was successfully returned and exchanged, but only after another couple days of camping out. I had to admit that I did feel very much like MacGyver for managing to assemble the thing--that is, if MacGyver ever had to assemble divan beds.Sunrise, low tide
Sunrise, low tide

In-between leaving work and getting home I go to the markets, where I stand in the aisles and Google furiously, trying to find British equivalents of the things that I need. Pods of laundry detergent look remarkably similar to pods of dishwasher soap, and I almost made a dire mistake the first time I went to do a load of laundry. The other day I made a poor man very perplexed by requesting cheesecloth. After cheesecloth proved unforthcoming, I was exceptionally pleased with myself for wrangling the large spices for pho into tea strainers. Note: pho makes an excellent option for the first real week of the semester, as you've got a giant bowl of soup waiting at home that requires very little effort to assemble once the broth is made (I use this recipe).

I am slowly acclimating to the rhythm of the semester. I feel so lucky to have had the last three years essentially to myself; with the exception of weekly meetings of an hour or two, my time was my own. Now I'm having to relearn how to balance teaching (or, you know, learning from scratch how to balance teaching) with research (checking books out of the library totally counts as research this week) with responding to (SO MANY) student emails. I already feel as though my relationship with Blackboard is an unbreakable bond of love and mutual respect.*

But in the end, I'm liking it here a lot. My colleagues have been welcoming, ready to answer my many, many questions, and nice about stopping by to see how I'm settling in. I'm looking forward to getting to Cambridge the weekend after this one to check out the BrANCH conference and meet other Americanists working in England. Train travel might be expensive here, but at least it doesn't take eight hours to get somewhere, as it does when you attempt to drive out of the state of Texas.

And of course, there's the fact that I've managed to find all the ingredients necessary for assembling pho.

*See also, my relationship with timetabling and tech support, both of whom receive regular emails from Yours Truly. 


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